On Friday April 15, the Kalamazoo College English Department hosted the “Unveiling of the New English Major” event. This occasion enabled students to learn about the requirements that will now accompany the major while also learning about the long process that went into its creation.
Dr. Amy Smith, the English Department Chair, opened the event with an explanation of the thought process behind the changes. “[We] can get something even better with English majors if we share what we all have in common,” Smith said.
The process began with extensive external reviews such as surveys and other reports to jump-start the creation process. The plans were then sent to a group of professors from other colleges to write a report and recommendations they have for the reconstruction. In addition, there was an English major retreat to receive more of the student’s input that K seniors remember participating in.
Dr. Ryan Fong, a professor in the English Department, explained that the English major will be 10 units for everyone. There are three stages in the major starting with the foundations. This will consist of a Reading the World course, an introduction to literary theory and research methods, and introduction to either creative writing or journalism. The second stage is the historical and cultural preparation, which includes four courses: a pre-19th century, 19th century, and twentieth or twenty-first century course, and a minoritarian/ diasporic course. The third stage is the advanced study.
Included with the third stage requirements, the major is able to choose a certain craft sequence out of six options. These are poetry, fiction, nonfiction, journalism, and the two newest additions: Film Criticism and Theory and Literary Criticism and Theory.
“A lot [about the new major] looks very similar,” Fong continued. “[We wanted to] make sure we kept courses like creative writing and journalism [while making sure that] everyone who works with literary and film criticism and theory gets the best of both worlds.”
Mallory McClure K’16, who attended the retreat, was interested in seeing the final product. “I think bringing in that theory is really important and that’s what I feel I missed most in my own English Major,” McClure said. “In general, they really listened to the students. A lot of the things we talked about in the retreat [was included]… [These changes] give you more space to [find the track you are interested in] and learn how it all interconnects.”